Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
A warm-season bunchgrass with good growth in spring and autumn, used fresh and
as hay, and recommended for leys with alfalfa in drier farming areas. In South
Africa and adjacent territories, it is valued for ease of establishment,
reasonable yields, and palatability. However, in countries where it has been
adopted, it is often regarded as inferior to the best grazing grasses and has
not spread much beyond experimental areas. It is considered excellent for
protecting terraces and for grassing water channels; and is valuable for
erosion control. In Lesotho, it is used to make baskets, brooms, hats, ropes,
and candles, used in funeral ritual, as a charm, and eaten as a grain (Duke and
Other species reported to be anhidrotic, and stimulant, and are folk remedies
for anemia, and diabetes (Duke and Wain, 1981).
Per 100 g, the wet matter is reported to contain (ZMB): 13.1 g protein, 2.1 g
fat, 78.8 g total carbohydrate, 31.5 g fiber, and 6.0 g ash (Gohl, 1981). Per
100 g, the wet matter is reported to contain (ZMB): 9.3 g protein, 3.0 g fat,
82.1 g total carbohydrate, 32.4 g fiber, 5.6 g ash, 310 mg Ca, and 180 mg P
(Miller, 1958). Paxton (1975) mentions high contrations of pyrocatechol in the
roots, suggesting an explanation for nematode resistance.
Variable, tufted perennial, deep-rooted, bunch-type, forming large clumps with
abundant drooping basal leaves; culms erect, 60-120 cm tall, simple; sheaths
keeled and densely to sparsely hispidulous basally; blades narrow, ascending,
involute, attenuate to a fine point, arcuate-spreading, rough on both surfaces;
panicles 15-40 cm long, 5-10 cm broad, open, with numerous ascending branches,
the lower ones pilose in axils, with numerous ascending secondary branchlets
that bear the sessile spikelets; spikelets grayish-green, appressed, 8-10 mm
long, 7- to 11-flowered; lemmas about 2.5 mm long, falling individually. Seeds
3 to 5 million/kg.
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, weeping lovegrass, or cvs
thereof, is reported to tolerate drought, frost, high pH, heat, low pH, mine,
poor soil and slope (Duke, 1978). All species and varieties are apomicts
although sexual plants have occasionally been found. The plants are
pseudogamous. The basic chromosome number is x = 10; aneuploid chromosome
number of 63 has also been found (Bogdan, 1977). The botanical var. valida
Stapf is established in Brazil. Several other cultivars have been
developed. 'A-67', developed in Arizona from Tanzanian seed, grows vigorously,
is leafy, densely tufted, long-lived, with extensive root system and long, lax
leaves; forage and seed production is higher than for Lehmann or Boer lovegrass
and is more cold tolerant than those species; used for range, pasture and soil
protection on a wide range of soil textures where annual precipitation exceeds
40 cm. 'Catalina', selected in Arizona from seed from Pretoria is apomictic,
equal to Lehmann lovegrass in stand establishment, with forage yields that are
30% higher and of better quality than for Lehmann; adapted to semi-arid and
arid areas of Southwest, at elevation below 1,530 m, with minimum rainfall of
30 cm; 'Ermelo' is comparatively leafy, with good performance under grazing
conditions in southern Oklahoma and Texas. 'Morpa', selected in Oklahoma from
seed from Transvaal, is about 7.5 cm taller, with panicles darker, leaves
slightly wider, and 7-10 days later than common lovegrass, with yields equal to
or higher than those of other cultivars; also contains less lignin and produces
12-13% higher live weight in stock, and is superior to common lovegrass in
average daily gains for both winter and summer grazing. (2n = 20, 40,
50, 60) (Reed, 1976).
Native to South Africa north to Rhodesia and Transvaal. Introduced into the
U.S. in 1927 from South Africa; introduced to North Africa, Australia, and
Ranging from Cool Temperate Steppe to Wet through Tropical Dry Forest Life
Zones, weeping lovegrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to
16.3 dm (mean of 27 cases = 8.6) annual temperature of 5.9 to 26.2°C (mean
of 27 cases = 16.5) and pH of 5.0 to 8.2 (mean of 25 cases = 6.7) (Duke, 1978).
Adapted to semi-arid and desert areas and sandy soils, growing well on low
fertility soils; very drought-resistant but lacks hardiness for more northern
areas. Grows well on a wide range of well-drained soils, especially sandy
loams; moderately frost-resistant in southern areas.
Relatively easy to establish from seed, and stands should be established
between May 1 and June 15. Seed planted with small seed drill. With later
plantings, there is less weed competition, more uniform seedling emergence due
to warm soil conditions and less chance of hard packing by rains that
frequently occur in spring. Seeding rate 1-3 kg/ha, with shallow sowing
essential, 0.6-1.3 cm deep; in rows 1-1.3 m apart. It is managed best in pure
stand. For seed production, row spacing should be not less than 60 cm apart.
A clean fine seedbed is essential for obtaining good stands. Seed area is
firmly pressed with a trailing packer wheel or drag. Under furrow irrigation,
fields should be listed at the desired row spacing. Plantings are made on top
of lister ridges and irrigated if needed for seedling emergence. Cultivate as
for other row crops. If needed, fertilizer should be added prior to planting,
with recommended rates of P and K. Nitrogen may be applied at this time at
rate of 11-22 kg/ha, and additional nitrogen applied as top-dressing after
seedlings are well established. Nitrogen applications of 66 kg/ha are
necessary for good seed production. Usually 33-70 kg/ha phosphate is also
needed. Micronutrients, such as iron, may be needed in some areas. Fertilizer
applications should be made in April for first seed crop and in August for
Crop provides summer pasture in United States with Korean lespedeza; grown for
winter pasture on sandy soils in Florida. Rotational grazing is necessary to
maintain stand. Hay harvested in mid-May, about 10 days after seed heads
appear, and at this stage may be expected to give 60% dry matter digestibility
and 11% crude protein content. Such hay is adequate for wintering dry cows
without supplemental protein. Height of plant at seed maturity is 92-123 cm.
With two seasons for seeds, yields of 630 kg/ha may be gotten in Oklahoma with
irrigation; seed yields of 562-900 kg/ha can be produced from established
stands; and in Arizona seed yields up to 1100 kg/ha have been recorded. E.
curvula is useful for pasture throughout much of the southern US, but well
adapted also in parts of the southern Great Plains. Ca 60,000 ha were grown in
Oklahoma and Texas in 1968. Also useful for soil erosion, grassing waterways
and for hay in areas of adaptation.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
1 to 10 MT/ha. Bogdan (1977) reports the following: 1-2 MT DM/ha from
unfertilized stands; in India, for fresh fodder, 11.8 MT/ha - 1st year, 27.2
MT/ha - 2nd year, 22.0 MT/ha - 3rd year, 5.3 MT/ha - 4th year; 6-11 MT DM/ha or
6-9 MT hay when 140-450 kg N/ha were added; and in South Africa, 160 kg applied
N increased yields from 2.0 MT DM/ha to 10.3 MT. Duke (1978) reports 9 MT
hay/ha. Dalrymple (1976) reports yields of 3-7 MT/ha DM in Oklahoma and
The following fungi have been reported from this grass: Colletotrichum
graminicola, Epichloe cinerea, Fusarium scirpi var. acuminatum,
Helminthosporium sativum, Phyllachora eragrostidicola, P. eragrostidis,
Rhizoctonia solani, Uromyces eragrostidis, U. pedicellata. Nematodes
isolated from this grass include Meloidogyne acronea, M. incognita, and
M. javanica. It has been reported that root exudates can adversely
affect geermination of maize and wheat seed, and are stimulating to sunflower
and cowpea (Bogdan, 1977).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Bogdan, A.V. 1977. Tropical pasture and fodder plants. Longman, London.
- Dalrymple, R.J. ca 1976. Weeping lovegrass management. The Nobel Foundation.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 1-61. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89-150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Miller, D.F. 1958. Composition of cereal grains and forages. National Academy
of Sciences, National Research Council, Washington, DC. Publ. 585.
- Paxton, J.D. 1975. Phytoalexins, phenolics and other antibiotics in roots
resistant to soil-borne fungi. p. 185-192. In: Bruehl, G.W. (ed.), Biology and
control of soil-borne plant pathogens. Am. Phytopath. Soc., St. Paul.
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
last update July 10, 1996